Most Apple users expect that they will be able to use a newly purchased Mac for at least three to five years (see “Apple’s Planned Obsolescence Schedule,” 2 November 2011). AppleCare extends the warranty on computers for three years for a reason: that’s the longest Apple expects to turn a profit by promising to fix service defects and unexpected wear and tear on products. But that three-year assumption also reflects Apple’s view of its customers’ typical ownership lifecycle.
This whole article was great (tip of the hat to John Gruber), but I love this paragraph about how often we update our Apple devices. I’ve been drooling over the new Macbook models for years, but kept on saying “my old Macbook works so well, why would I upgrade?”. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve started to think about upgrading, and that’s because my Macbook couldn’t run Lion and was falling behind. Even then, Snow Leopard is doing fine for me and I could use it longer… Guess how old my Macbook is; it’s a 2006 Macbook, 6 years old in May. Good to see that Apple and I agree with when it should be replaced!
Mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch are both cheaper and suffer the indignities of portable use, so AppleCare lasts only two years there. Plus, a two-year and every-other-model upgrade cycle fits well with the standard two-year cell phone contract, but even more so than computers, iOS devices tend to become technology hand-me-downs.
This paragraph is even better. I owned my iPhone 3G for two years before upgrading to the iPhone 4, and I expect that I will upgrade that phone in October when Apple announces the next generation. Similarly, I own a first-gen iPad and am currenly drooling over the iPad 3 and trying to convince my wife to buy it! Apple doesn’t expect us to upgrade every year, so they spread their significant upgrades over two years and set the AppleCare timeline to reflect that cycle.
Once you think about things that way, it gets really interesting. Apple WANTS you to upgrade your Macbook every 5 years and your iOS devices every two, so they build them with enough upgrades so that you do just that. It’s genius really and probably one of the significant reasons that Apple is now the most valued company in the world.